Tuesday, September 26, 2023

On A Wool Farm

Storing wool, raw or finished items, is an ongoing job that should never be taken lightly.  Well, it should be taken lightly...but I'll come back to that and add a few more wool storage tips in a minute.  

Most people storing wool are concerned about moths.  Opening a bag of wool to find a clump of moths inside is a terrible feeling.  As I finished skirting (finally) this spring's fleeces and started sorting through the saved fleeces from past years, I found...chicken eggs :-o.

Broken chicken eggs.

In three bags...including my last Petunia fleece.

Next pandemic I'm just going to starve to death. 

As I was picking out chunks of egg mess I came up with a better plan to keep the chickens from having access to their favorite nesting [bags].  The previous plan of a horribly annoying and apparently not effective piece of cattle panel precariously hooked across the front of the area was just as annoying as the stupid chickens.  

Luckily my friend Ed was bored enough to come out here and make the plan work.  He built a frame around the back of the left side and covered it with wire and plastic netting.  The fronts are easily removed to access the wool. The whole thing looks so neat and tidy and now I feel confident it will stay neat and tidy...and egg free.  

Side note: when I posted this picture on IG, several people commented that it looked like the fleeces were in jail.  Three people in our neighborhood have seen it and all three said it looked like either a liquor store in downtown Chicago or when they used to block off the beer aisle at the grocery on Sundays.  I'm not sure what that says about us...well, I guess I do ;-).

Moving on to the Wool House.  Twice a year I pull everything out and check each bag and basket for any sign of trouble.  This year I found lots of tiny holes in quite a few of the roving bags up in the loft.  

Nothing amiss with the wool...just tiny holes everywhere.

What on earth...


I'm not going to add plastic netting to the inside of the Wool House and if I try to limit his access to the ladder he'll just try to do something heroic like jump up there from the loom and then rack up a vet bill to add insult to injury so I'm going to just keep adding tape to cover his needle sharp claw holes.

Don't even think about it, Pecky Becky!

* * * * *

Here are some wool storage tips that have worked well for me.  This is going to be heavy on the plastic, sadly, but this is one application where I just hold my nose...

Keep everything in clear bags.  Moths are looking for dark so a black plastic bag is exactly where they are hoping you'll stash your stash.

Keep your fleeces where the light hits them. Don't store wool in your dark garage or basement.

Do not store raw wool in the house.  Get it washed as quickly as you can.  

If you aren't actively using a wool item (sweaters, coats, blankets, yarn, roving...) keep it secure in a clear plastic bag and give everything a quick check a couple times a year.

I add bay leaves to all my yarn and roving baskets.  I may not be actively using the baskets of handspun yarn or roving I have stashed around the Wool House, but I love seeing them sitting there.  Scattering bay leaves into the baskets seems to be helping keep them safe.  Definitely doesn't hurt.  

I use clear plastic tubs to store my sweaters.  I have concerns about the holes where the handles clip the lids on so I toss bay leaves in there as well.

Moths don't like to be disturb things as often as you can.  More knitting, weaving, spinning!  

When I'm doing my spring and fall 'clean up and check everything', I take my open yarn baskets outside in the sun and shake each skein out, turn the baskets upside down and refresh the bay leaves.  You can get bulk bay leaves at a good grocery or find a friend in California with them growing in their front yard ;-).

Another way I shake things up is by tossing finished items (sweaters, blankets...) in the dryer a couple of times a year, especially in the summer.  The tumbling and heat has never affected the fit of anything.  Don't do that with wet wool items though as, yes, they would shrink right up.  

Be vigilant!  Keep an eye on everything and if you find a problem, remove the item immediately and check everything else nearby.  You don't need to throw out your yarn, roving, sweater...  Just get it away from your stash and out into the sun and shake it out.  Washing it is never a bad idea either.  

I don't like using chemicals and would only use them if there was a crisis situation.  There is an aerosol dairy spray you can get at the farm store that you can spray into a plastic bag and immediately close up and hopefully not much gets out into the air.

Don't be so hard on those hard working spiders in your corners.  They may be helping keep your wool safe :-).


Far Side of Fifty said...

Great tips! Pecky Becky looks sad.

Terry and Linda said...

When I block off some me creatures they always look at me with such sad faces.
They know---and they know why :)

Vicki said...

Thanks for all the tips! I"ve definitely found that dirty items get eaten first. Dirty wool, or a sweater with food spilled on it...........

I just moved a bunch of wool blankets. They all seemed fine. Except one. The moths are definitely picky!

Have you tried the sticky pheromone traps? I use them for pantry moths, but haven't for wool moths. I probably should....


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